Further Information

The Australian Federal Court: Justice Finn's decision on ETS | Federal Court of Australia
Article Published: 1996/12/20

Type: Legal
Published By: Federal Court of Australia

Further Information

The reality that the "dangers" of passive smoking are a fabrication was not caught just by the US Federal District Court in 1998. Before this, in 1996 a Federal Australian court came to the same conclusion. The Australian National Health & Medical Research Council was taken to task by the tobacco industry for deliberately suppressing scientific evidence. Justice Finn's findings were eloquent.

"It is clear that the NH&MRC has fallen well short of meeting … the obligation to have regard to submissions received … to take them into account and to give positive consideration to their contents as a fundamental element in its decision making …"

"The community is not to be excluded from that participation simply because, for whatever reason, the NH&MRC does not wish to give consideration to some part of the contents of submissions … It had unilaterally excluded from consideration material, which it previously had determined to be relevant by virtue of the Terms of Reference it had approved …"

"What was objectionable in what the Working Party did was to adopt this exclusionary discriminator without bringing to the notice of the public that this was what they were going to do. They misled the public."

Justice Finn made subsequent orders that the recommendations contained in the draft report on the estimated costs to the community of passive smoking, and for the elimination of environmental tobacco smoke in public places be taken out, as those recommendations could not be inferred from the evidence contained in the report.

In fact, working party member Simon Chapman, an associate professor at the Department of Public Health and Community Medicine at Sydney University and member of ASH, and his group, were caught while deleting information that would have exonerated passive smoke from association with disease. Despite judicial citation for this, Chapman nevertheless became a prominent consultant at the World Health Organization, which endorsed the very study that was previously the object of this lawsuit, showing contempt for ethics and any justice system that does not corroborate its ideology. Chapman remains a high-profile antitobacco activist as of 2008.

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